Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why I Am Repeating the Genealogy Do-Over

Photo Courtesy of Thomas MacEntee

I started my journey with the Genealogy Do-Over in January. If you have not taken advantage of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, I highly recommend it! I have decided to repeat the final cycle of Genealogy Do-Over when it begins on Friday, October 2nd. By the end of the 13 weeks, I  learned through trial and error that there were aspects of my genealogy research methods that were good and other methods I needed to work on and some methods that I have never done because of online access. 

You might be wondering why?

It is simple really. I learned so much from Thomas the first go around. There is so much information and there was a lot was going on in the course of my life that I sometimes found myself overwhelmed. Which is no one's fault but my own! Better time management this time around is absolutely necessary! By repeating the class, I can focus on more specific and concentrated areas that I feel I didn't give enough attention too.

For instance I have always done collateral research in my many trees, the problem was I didn't know exactly where to end the collateral research. Which brought me to the "bright shiny object" (BSO) I didn't expect to find. I would then follow it even though it ended up being a distant relative or was perhaps was only related by marriage. 

When Thomas asked us to set aside our previous research, I did so without any reservations. You have to understand that my research is an accumulation of the beginning I have been carrying around in totes, boxes, and bags from one home to the next. The totes, boxes and baskets that contained my research from the beginning when I started researching my children's paternal lines in the summer of 1980.

I made the choice to throw away all information that was not sourced or did not have a some type of documentation as to where I found it. There was the age of the document and who sent there research to me. I have kept all the research materials that were given to me by Grand Aunts, cousin and aunts If I came across a family name I did not know, I checked the families against my databases. If they were not in the 6 active trees I work in well, it became a scratch pad or something for my grandson to color on. I kept all records that I have collected for all the trees and found records I previously thought were lost. I am down to 2 tote boxes of sourced information, 1 basket for all of my correspondence, 1 basket to hold original copies of the forms I use and for my original documents and finally I have 4 baskets of empty file folders. 

Lessons Learned in a Previous Occupation

In another lifetime I was a travel agent and the best way for me to keep track of reservations, ticket processing, planing executive business meetings, deposits and final payments was using a calendar. Until recently I was using Google calendar to keep an electronic calendar for both personal and blogging calendar, which was how I kept track of my blog posts. Then one day my personal and editorial calendars mysteriously became public on my Google+ and Google home page. I am not sure if it was caused by me, my phone carrier or a glitch at Google. I decided then and there that going back to my calendar system was in order. I bought a new weekly/monthly calendar which means now I don't have to worry. 

What I Learned the 1st Time Around

I learned a great many things, the first time around! I also wrote 2 posts about my this experience after our class ended how it affected my research in a many positive ways. You can click here for the first post The Things I Learned By Participating in the Genealogy Do-Over and click here for the second post The Genealogy Do-Over: The Best Thing I Did for My Genealogy

Here are a few things I learned the first time around. Tracking research and time management are vital to any and all research and organization is paramount to any genealogist. I have learned that Elizabeth Shown Mills's, Evidence Explained 3rd Edition is the bible of genealogy. I am technology challenged and I have tried very hard not to be when it comes to Genealogy but some of it is just not for me! I know how to use a computer and various software programs, Facebook, Pintrest, and post to my newly acquired Twitter account. Speaking of Twitter, I can post my blog and retweet everyone's post but I don't know how to actually do a tweet. Oh well, I will eventually figure it out! I am slowly getting the hang of Evidentia 2 and to Mr. E. Thompson, who designed the software please don't make any major changes to it anytime soon!

What I am Looking For the 2nd Time Around

There are some areas of the Genealogy Do-Over that I want to really focus on. For instance I want to focus on managing projects and I want to know what is considered "genealogy project". I would love to finally understand how to use a spread sheet to track my research and my searches. I would like to learn better time management skills for researching, searching, projects and tasks.

I feel as if my source citations have improved greatly since learning the proper formats but they still need work, of course I am not sure I will ever be satisfied with my formats. I have given up on Evernote, it is just not for me. My biggest problem with Evernote is remembering to open it and actually use it. I am sure that is because I prefer my composition books in which I right everything down. I am still "old school" in some areas but I love the challenge it gives me.


I have been actively researching my family tree for 35 years as of this past June. I started with my children's paternal lines during the summer of 1980 in Montgomery, Alabama while I waited for the birth of my first child. I learned that the methods I had been using all of this time actually had proper names like collateral research and the F.A.N. Principle.

Whether you are a new genealogist and/or a veteran to genealogist, or you are self-taught like me, taking Thomas MacEntee's, Genealogy DO-Over is well worth your time!  To me being able to do this not once but twice is not only worth my time, it will also reinforce the lessons I came away with but it will help solidify the lessons I need help with too.

I have one question for you Thomas, are you going to kick things up a notch next year? Perhaps going to the next level of research and adding more challenges.


Mills, Elizabeth S., Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd Edition, 892 pages, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company 2015.

MacEntee, Thomas, Genealogy Do-Over 2015, online education program, Facebook Group - Genealogy Do-Over ( : 16 September 2015).

MacEntee, Thomas, Genealogy Do-Over 2015, online image for Genealogy Do-Over, Facebook Group - Genealogy Do-Over ( : 16 September 2015). 


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